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Mediaite: A Media News Website With a Bite

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Link-Up Digital

Many people interested in media are finding their way to Mediaite ( Mediaite provides constant updates on what is making news on cable TV, online, broadcast TV, and syndicated radio. Whatever stories you’ve missed on The View, Rush Limbaugh’s show, Rachel Maddow, and Piers Morgan, and to a lesser extent, magazines and newspapers, Mediaite provides the headlines.

The adjectives that best describe Mediaite are newsy, trendy, terse, opinionated, timely, and current. It analyzes the media, covers news, dissects it, and occasionally mocks it. And it’s popular. It attracts 950,000 unique visitors a month, so that’s nearly a million eyeballs reviewing it.  It’s like TV Guide meets YouTube. But for many people, particularly those under 30 and in the media business, Mediaite has become a must-read or a must-see since videos compose the bulk of it.

Launched by Dan Abrams, son of Floyd Abrams, a well-known First Amendment attorney, Mediaite could only be found on the Internet. It’s not your old-fashioned newspaper, which believes in balance, often refusing to take a stand in the name of objectivity. Mediaite offers a strong point of view and can be provocative. 

Founder Dan Abrams is a nearly ubiquitous person. He’s a legal correspondent for ABC News, substitute anchor for Good Morning, America, ex-legal correspondent for NBC-News, and ex-general manager at MSNBC. Besides Mediaite, he also runs Sports Grid, GeekOSystem, and Jane Dough, which covers women in business. 

Mediaite is organized into TV, Online, Print, Ranking, Online, Video, Columns, and Jobs. Because most of the media including online, cable and broadcast TV is now 24/7, Mediaite writes continuous updates to track this rapidly changing media.

For example, in March 2012, Mediaite wrote columns about The View’s Joy Behar’s take on Sarah Palin in the HBO series Game Change, whether the boycott of Rush Limbaugh will force him off the air, and analyzed Soledad O’Brien’s provocative discussions on race on CNN. Since no one, not even TV executives with their multiple screens, can watch everything on TV and read everything online, Mediaite shows and informs what viewers missed.

The writing is very terse, often only a paragraph, but takes a strong point of view. For example, writer Josh Feldman’s lead in a recent news story was, “We really have nothing important to talk about in this country, so why don’t we spend a lot of time chatting about a trashy ABC show?” His article on ABC’s “GCB,” which stands for either Good Christian Bitches or the tamer Good Christian Belles, skewers the debate about whether this show demeans religious Christians. Would The New York Times or Washington Post satirize a show it was writing about? Doubtful. As with most Mediaite stories, it includes a video of a liberal radio host debating a conservative columnist about the effects of “GCB.”

In many ways Mediaite operates more like YouTube than a newspaper. The emphasis is on showing the video clip punctuated by a couple of sentences or a paragraph to set the scene. The site doesn’t provide much analysis or commentary: it is content to let the clip speak for itself. 

Even its “print” section gives readers a snapshot of what The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and cable stations are focusing on, but only a snippet. Rather than reprinting the articles, Mediaite offers its usual a synopsis of how Limbaugh accused the Wall Street Journal of distorting his views, how President Obama’s delivering a commencement address at Barnard College cancelled New York Times’ executive editor Jill Abramson’s speech, and how Fox-TV executive Roger Ailes praised liberal commentator Rachel Maddow’s upcoming book. 

Mediaite also publishes a power ranking (updated daily) of the most influential TV pundits, magazine and online editors, TV reporters and TV anchors. It uses a proprietary algorithm based on Nielsen ratings, Google searches, Twitter mentions, online buzz and other metrics to rank the most powerful and popular. In March, TV reporters Andrea Mitchell, Norah O’Donnell, and John Yang, and editors Anna Wintour, Tina Brown, and Terry McDonnell, and online/newspaper editors Ariana Huffington, Jill Abramson, and John Geddes were ranked the top three in their fields.

The site is extremely interactive. Readers are involved, write constant feedback, and argue, dispute, and sympathize with one another. It’s like one long old-fashioned telephone party line. Disputes heat up, particularly with conservatives pitted against liberals (and vice versa). For example, one liberal reader wrote that conservatives call CNN irrelevant and say no one watches, and then comment on everything that CNN beams so how irrelevant can it be? Too often, however, the banter turns into childish name-calling.

Mediaite ultimately appeals to readers in their 20s or 30s who prefer not to read lengthy newspaper articles. Instead they can watch videos and receive a quick update of what they’re going to see--and they can make up their own mind on whether Rush Limbaugh should stay or Sarah Palin was treated fairly.

 Gary M. Stern is a freelance writer based in New York City.

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